It is five days since I have finished my fifth SFR 600, it is Buddha’s birthday (have a good one dude) and my ass still hurts some. I had not planned on doing any of the usual SFR randonnees this year. I was only going to do Max’s and Carlos’ mixed terrain rides and maybe the SCR and Davis darts, but I had notions of doing the Gold Rush 1200, so I ended up doing the usual once again so I could qualify for the longer ride. Sigh.

My good friend Jake did me a great favor in inviting me to ride the Santa Rosa HUBH for my 200k, which is a most beautiful ride and one of the best 200k’s I currently know of, is the highlight of this year’s series for me.

The weather forecast for the 600 was looking great, just a little warm in Cloverdale and not at all cold at night, so I could wear the same clothing I did for last year, and pack lightly. For this edition I wanted a little more comfort than my Toei, so I prepped my red 650b Pelican for the ride.

On the way to the start the headlight failed. During the night portion of the fleche in March my front end was making a clicking sound and after the ride there was a lot of condensation in the light (the bike was out in a down pour for about two hours, most of that time I was in a Dennys), so maybe something finally shorted out after riding all night during the fleche with wet internals in the light. It was an edelux, I still have plenty of confidence in that style of light.

I got to the start control, dropped off my drop bag which consisted of a six pack of beer and was able to cheat my way through the bike inspection with the stand light on my broken edelux. I wanted the card so the volunteers would not have to wait around for me to show up late with a new bike  – something they probably would not do regardless. After getting my inspection approval I got my brevet card from volunteer Ely and told him I was going home to change bikes. I saw Gabe and told him the same and left.

I rode the twenty minutes home, swapped back to the Toei, changing the size of the spare tubes I was carrying at the same time, noted the time of 618, and headed back out.

I am a little bummed out to be starting about an hour late, but if I make the first control I should have absolutely no trouble finishing the ride on time. I get to the Palace market in Point Reyes with 45 minutes to spare without any special efforts, so I am going to be fine.

With the late start I will not make my hoped for noon finish time the next day, but all I need to do is inform my girl Juliayn that I will be late and that is all that needs to be done. Juliayn is the day of contact for riders in trouble, so to let her know what is going on I will ask the volunteers at the club comfort station in Philo to let her know the new schedule the next time they talk to her.

I head off to the next control in Petaluma and while it is getting a bit trafficy, everything is uneventful until I get close to 101 in Petaluma. The road is narrow and two 300 pounders in an SUV squeeze their bulk past me in poor fashion so they can get to the red light 100 feet ahead. I am a bit miffed at their lack of consideration and cue up behind them. Light turns green and the driver is rummaging in the footwell. After I yell repeatedly that the light is green (I don’t have a horn) the dumbass gets going to the next red light, but this one has a bike lane and I pass the idiots so I don’t have to look at them anymore.

At the Petaluma Safeway control there are still riders present and putzing around. I get to catch up a bit with Stefan, a long time acquaintance from mixed terrain rides (Stefan is in the middle) and from the HUBH. At this stop I had planned on getting a six pack of safeway brand ensure, but the ensure packaging has changed to tetra-paks and are not reseal-able. I hem and haw for a while and buy a 4-pack of ensure regular, which is reseal-able. I am prepping to leave after chugging one of them and Tim Mason pulls up.

Tim is tons faster than I but is having stomach trouble and is behind because of his lengthy trips to the restroom. I give him a hunk of ginger that I keep for settling my stomach and for anti-inflammatory properties and he proceeds to tow me to the next control, Healdsburg, at about 4mph faster than I usually go. This is HUGE, as it nearly removes my deficit from starting late. Tim did this for me during the 300k this year too, which uses the same route. Tim is a great guy and easy to follow. He also races track and road. Despite his total dominance over me physically I still take two city limit signs from him with my patented ‘car back’ quip and sprint. I figured it would only work once, but just imagine my satisfaction when it worked twice! Oh yeah. I am King, King of my own world. Yeah.

I get to Healdsburg in time to say goodbye to my buddies Carlos, Gabe and Bryan. Nothing looks good to eat, but I do find a six pack of the old safeway ensure in reseal-able containers, chug a couple, and hit the road after greeting Theresa with a peck on the cheek who was goofing off on the ride (the way it should be) visiting her sisters in Petaluma and Santa Rosa along the way.

On the road I see Stefan again in the distance since he stopped for a break, but maybe 5 miles later I see him stopped again. He sadly informs me that he forgot something at his last stop and has to go back for it. I reassure him he will see me soon and leave him.

After a short stop in Cloverdale to top off my bottles I head for the strenuous part of the ride, the hills that separate the Cotati plains and the Russian River Valley from Anderson Valley. It is a bit warm as expected, but not bad. I run into a small group of riders along the way, JT, Alex and Jenny. Jenny is wearing shoe covers in the heat and I wonder how squishy her feet must be. We goof off with our greetings and passing and re-passing as we climb and shorten the two mile climb with our banter.

128 is so beautiful. I have to keep looking to either side because there are small vistas of homes and rock outcrops that are not visible from simply looking straight ahead. The road is like this the whole way to the ocean. Stefan catches up again when I stop for a moment. We take turns at the front, him climbing faster, me descending faster, on the way to Boonville.

At Boonville, I end up on my own and I see Tim Mason leaving as I arrive. Tim left a half gallon of water on the table in front of the store and I use it all to top off my bottles and my stomach. After I have claimed all of the free water the people I had seen earlier arrive in a group and look like they will settle in for a while. I know that the club comfort station is not far, so I head off with thoughts of my drop bag beverages in mind.

Before I know it I am there in Philo, and drop down the short side road to the campground where club provided comfort lies in wait. The crew this year anticipated my needs (like all good volunteers and women) and had beer! I did not need a drop bag! Holy Crap the world is ending or something.

I drink one of their beers, add mine to the club supplies and hit the road.

It is a looong way to the ocean, and about a 4.5 hour ride to Fort Bragg. This is substantially different from what we have had in the past, about twice the time and distance in one direction between comfort and Fort Bragg.

At Fort Bragg nothing looks good again, so I chug an Ensure, finish Carlos’ left over macaroni and cheese, and drink a Mexican Coke. Carlos and I leave together and it is really cold out.

After a few miles we stop for a break on one of the climbs and hook up with Bryan, Gabe and our RBA Rob for the rest of the ride back to Philo. Luckily things warm up considerably after the coast and I feel quite warm and cozy.

Arriving once again at the club comfort station I get a beer but nothing looks good again. I decide on the safe bet, the vegetarian soup, eat a bowl and leave while the others are changing clothes. The next stretch is the hardest part of the ride and I do not want to have to wait around for individual potty and food breaks in a group of four. The sky clears and I get to enjoy the horizon to horizon show of stars and the Milky Way.

Every pedal stroke on the many climbs out of the Anderson Valley has me urping up the vegetable soup and I am not happy. I eat some ginger on separate occasions, but with no positive results. As I triumphantly descended at speed down to Cloverdale after all the climbing my vegetable soup wanted out – now. I tried to reason with the soup as I was going 30mph in the dark on a twisty descent, but the vegetable soup was not interested. Rather than spew and crash in the stuff, I slammed on the brakes, clipped out and started the purge. Of course a car drove past at that moment to illuminate my humiliation and weakness.

Purge completed, I rinsed out and headed on my way. I did not stop until Guerneville except to answer the info control near Healdsburg. In Guerneville I am on my own to start with but when I leave I see Bryan who also had the veggie soup. He was lucky enough to only get an upset stomach. Leaving I see Brian K and Jason P waiting for the others in the parking lot and get to chat a bit.

Their group passes me on the road when I take middle road after Valley Ford and they stay on Hwy 1. We overlap at Point Reyes where I show up after them, but realize that I can’t sit down because I will be late to the finish and make Juliayn wait too long. I hit the road for home, and the group I left behind passes me in Nicasio. They will finish about a half hour before me.

In Sausalito I am swarmed by team kit wearing boneheads on carbon and sort of wish I was back in Medocino or anywhere else. It is easy for me to understand why most non-cyclists hate cyclists.

On the Golden Gate Bridge I find myself behind two younger female cyclists who wear street clothes and ride swiftly and competently, restoring some of my confidence in the future of cycling and guiding me to the end of my ride in fashion.

Done! Juliayn! Beer! Torta con heuevos! Yee haw!

I get a smooch and pampering from Juliayn, exchange greetings and tall tales with volunteers Max, Julia and David, and after maybe an hour head home.

This ride is so pretty but also pretty hard. I need to think hard about doing it again.

post script:

Tim Mason earned his Ultra-Randonneur status by completing this randonnee. The Ultra is about the only medal I am interested in achieving, but we will see…